How we’ve listened to music over the past 25 years

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HitClips are often described as toys, but for me, at age 7, they were legitimate listening devices, maybe even the alone listening devices that had a cultural cache. My friends and I weren’t discussing the intricacies of the sound quality, we just wanted the rush of endorphins to put on glittery bell bottoms and Lip Rageous * NSYNC Lip Balm and singing: “If you want it, here is my heaaaart… Unattached ”over and over again. –Vrinda Jagota

Radio Shack Computer Speakers

Since my freshman year of college in 1999, I’ve owned two ugly, gray, decidedly non-audiophile RadioShack computer speakers. I still remember the explosion of newly acquired MP3s, via Winamp software, over and over on those stupid speakers in my dorm. Looking back, I wonder if their limits have pushed me into the singer-songwriter music that I have leaned more and more into during these difficult two years – Ben Folds, Guster, Elliott Smith, the Acoustic version of Wilco’s “I’m Always in Love”, as well as a mix of live millennium bootlegs by your Matthewses and Mayers – music that could be found without a subwoofer (or bass, for that matter).

In the two-plus decades since, I’ve acquired a lot of better listening gear (and broader listening habits), but there was a heartwarming familiarity with the RadioShack set; when I was younger, I often fell asleep while listening to them. Plus: they just weren’t breaking! Finally, when my older kid was homeschooling during the pandemic, I figured I could probably replace the fancy new speaker from a huge tech company for my own setup and let the kid use. the RadioShacks. Well, shock: the fancy new model was totally useless, and now that the kid is back in school, I’m stealing those drab little speakers. –Marc Hogan

iPod mini pink

I wanted it right away: the original iPod mini, in pink of course. It was in 2004, and I convinced my parents to buy me one because my ride to college was 45 minutes each way, and there were only a limited number of CDs that I had. could transport with my counterfeit Discman. My friends were impressed, but I was obsessed: The Mini was dense as a brick and shiny as a candy bar wrapper, and with its four gigabytes of hard drive space, I felt like I had my own radio station. I loaded Beyoncé and Modest Mouse and the Killers. I picked up iTunes Store coupons on Strawberry Scented Lip Balms and purchased Gwen Stefani digital downloads Love. Angel. Music. Babe. the day of its release. The Mini accompanied me everywhere, by car and bus, even to the Christian summer camp which prohibited secular music. After hours and hours of listening, I started hearing things in my favorite songs that I had never heard before: the carefully placed upstrokes in the main riff of Green Day’s “American Idiot”, the way whose backbeat builds “Wonderwall”. My guitar teacher at the time was trying to get me to like Jeff Buckley, I guess I wasn’t listening. –Anna Gaca

Griffin iTrip FM Transmitter

In 2005, I started parking in my high school parking lot in Ona, West Virginia, in a used Toyota Corolla with manual locks and crank windows. There was an AM / FM radio but no CD player, no tape recorder and certainly no AUX port. With all due respect to the local radio stations of the time, I was a Pitchfork player on iPod and wanted to listen to the good stuff. Imagine a proto-Baby Driver– except without any interest in heists and without any driving skills for escapades.


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